Third Warning: How should patience be used and where should it be spent? Three kinds of patience.
O my impatient soul! Is it at all sensible to think today of past hardships of worship, difficulties of the prayers, and troubles of misfortune, and be distressed, and to imagine the future duties of worship, service of the prayers, and sorrows of disaster, and display impatience? In being thus impatient you resemble a foolish commander, who, although the enemy’s right flank joined his right flank and became fresh forces for him, sent a significant force to the right flank, and weakened the centre. Then, while there were no enemy soldiers on the left flank, he sent a large force there, and gave them the order to fire. No forces then remained in the centre, and the enemy understood this and attacked it and routed him.
Yes, you resemble this, for the troubles of yesterday have today been transformed into mercy; the pain has gone while the pleasure remains. The difficulty has been turned into blessings, and the hardship into reward. In which case, you should not feel wearied at it, but make a serious effort to continue with a new eagerness and fresh enthusiasm. As for future days, they have not yet arrived, and to think of them now and feel bored and wearied is a lunacy like thinking today of future hunger and thirst, and starting to shout and cry out. Since the truth is this, if you are reasonable, you will think of only today in connection with worship, and say: “I am spending one hour of it on an agreeable, pleasant, and elevated act of service, the reward for which is high and whose trouble is little.” Then your bitter dispiritedness will be transformed into sweet endeavour.
My impatient soul! You are charged with being patient in three respects. One is patience in worship. Another is patience in refraining from sin. And a third is patience in the face of disaster. (1) If you are intelligent, take as your guide the truth apparent in the comparison in this Third Warning. Say in manly fashion: “O Most Patient One!”, and shoulder the three sorts of patience. If you do not squander on the wrong way the forces of patience Almighty Allah has given you, they should be enough to withstand every difficulty and disaster. So hold out with those forces!
(1) Suyuti, al-Durar al-Muntathira, 46; Suyuti, al-Fath al-Kabir, ii, 200.
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